Parenting an Addict? How to Change Tactics Gracefully

How can you change tactics when one approach is not working for your child? Some good, quick advice for parenting an addict here.

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How to Backpedal When Parenting An Addict

Parenting is a tough job. I’s not always easy to know what’s good and beneficial for your child. However, being the parent of an addict is doubly hard! Sometimes, you’ll find yourself backpedaling on things you’ve said or changing tack to find an approach that works.

There are numerous reasons which might make you change your mind if you’re parenting an addict. For instance, you might hit upon the realization that your helicopter parenting tactics– always swooping in to save your child – never lets them face the consequences of their actions. Or perhaps your endless excuses for their behavior are only fueling or enabling their addiction. Alternatively, you might discover that the situation has changed and what informed a certain decision a few weeks ago no longer applies.

Why It Is Difficult To Change Your Mind

Regardless of the reason, backpedaling on things we’ve gotten wrong is something all parents have to do sometime. That doesn’t make it easier, though! Quite the opposite in fact. Changing our minds is difficult because most of us harbor the belief that this is a sign of weakness. As a parent, backpedaling on what you’ve said or done comes with a healthy dose of guilt and an undeniable feeling that maybe if you’d been a better, smarter parent, your kid wouldn’t have ended up in this addiction mess to begin with.

Matters are made worse by the immense pressure on parents to have everything figured out. Add our inherent stubbornness and pride coupled with a natural confirmation bias that clouds our minds and you begin to see why backtracking can seem like an insurmountable task for most parents.

Backpedaling or Changing Tactics Gracefully

Although it’s difficult to do, backpedaling shows that you’re a flexible, rational, thoughtful person who can adjust as situations change.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Admit that you were wrong. Admitting that your behavior might somehow have enabled your child’s addiction is one of the difficult truths parents of addicts have to face. If you have to admit that you were wrong in front of your addicted child, don’t make a big fuss. A simple and brief explanation of why the change is occurring will do. Doing so will teach them that even adults mess up and that it isn’t wrong to change your mind once you realize the error of your ways.

2. Adjust your approach. If you notice your approach doesn’t seem to be getting through to your kid, try something different. For instance, you could ask them to let you know what help they need to get better or what consequences they feel should be meted out should they step out of line. This shows them that their opinion matters and gives them a measure of control over their lives.

3. Improve communication with your child. Finally, take time to learn how to communicate better with your addicted child. Being accepting and understanding instead of judgmental will go a long way towards repairing your relationship. Also, limiting your negative reactions to their addiction will ensure you don’t swallow your words quite so often.

About the author
Tyler is a freelance writer/journalist, with past experience as the head content writer and outreach coordinator for HelpYourTeenNow. His areas of focus include: parenting, education, social media, addiction, and issues facing teenagers today.
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